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Alcohol and Teeth: Three Things To Consider Before You Drink

Published date field Last Updated:

Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

For most people, the holiday season comes filled with chances to spend time with loved ones, nosh on great food, and yes, make a toast with some of the season's best bubbly. But there’s something you should know. Whether you prefer champagne, wine, mixed drinks, or beer, be aware that alcohol and teeth aren't natural allies. So, it’s important to know how alcohol can affect your teeth and why you might choose one drink over another.  

1. Sugar Content 

 Sugar consumption can be a major risk factor in causing tooth decay. The bacteria in your mouth lives on sugar, so sipping on sweet drinks gives the bacteria plenty of fuel to thrive. By choosing beverages that are lower in sugar, you can ensure your holiday merrymaking doesn't turn into a dental or health problem by January. 

According to facts published by the National Library of Medicine, the sugar in alcohol cocktails matter. 

A dry brut champagne typically has just 0.5 grams of sugar per 5-ounce serving. Conversely, a champagne on the sweeter end of the spectrum can have anywhere between 8 and 10 grams of sugar. Therefore drier champagne is the better choice with respect to your teeth.  

Wine has a similar spectrum, with a typical dry white wine weighing in at roughly 3 grams of sugar per 5-ounce serving relative to a whopping 8 grams of sugar for a sweet red wine, sherry, or port.  

When in doubt, opt for a drier drink for healthier teeth!  

2. Dehydration 

The American Dental Association (ADA) warns that one of the often-forgotten side effects of alcohol, dehydration, can be just as damaging to your teeth. It happens like this: Ordinarily, saliva flow naturally washes away bacteria from your teeth. However, alcohol consumption leads to a decrease in saliva flow. That means instead of being washed away naturally, bacteria clings to the enamel, increasing your risk of tooth decay. 

If you're celebrating the season with a few drinks, be sure to alternate alcohol with a glass of water to replenish this saliva and keep your mouth clean. You can also chew sugar-free gum or pop a mint on your tongue between drinks to further increase saliva production. 

3. Teeth Staining 

Heavily colored alcohol can lead to stained teeth. Red wine, sangria, and similar drinks with deep hues not only turn your teeth red but can result in long-lasting discoloration and overall dullness. Not a great look for all those holiday pictures! 

Make sure you offset the effects of these colored drinks with a hydrogen peroxide-based whitening toothpaste to decrease surface stains and promote a whiter smile. 

Keep in mind that alcohol and teeth may be well-known adversaries, especially during a spirit-filled holiday season. However, with a little extra care and attention, it's OK to enjoy yourself. Just don't let all the merrymaking negatively affect your teeth and overall dental health when the holiday season is over! 

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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